A Rather Dangerous Thing To Do…

DangerAfter I had known the Lord for about five years I did something which, looking back, was a bit of a spiritually dangerous thing to do. It was most certainly an absolutely right and biblical thing to do, and I have no doubt whatsoever that the Lord Himself led me to do it, but it was nonetheless decidedly risky. I asked the Lord to show me the true extent of my sinfulness and what it meant to carry the cross. I asked Him to show me what it meant to die daily to self and be one with Him in His death and resurrection. I am not exaggerating in any way at all when I say that, over the years that followed, I truly didn’t know what hit me.

There is no doubt in my mind that I really did know before then that I was a sinner. Indeed, the night I came to the Lord, totally out of the blue, I knew for the first time in my life that I was sinful and in need of His forgiveness and mercy. It was not a concept I had in any way previously comprehended, but that night I really was a penitent sinner cut down by a deep and abiding conviction of my depravity before God and the need for both forgiveness and cleansing. In other words, I was no fair-weather convert having responded to some perverted evangelistic message to the mere effect that God loved me and had a wonderful plan for my life. No! I knew beyond doubt that night that I was quite deservedly headed for a terrible and godless eternity, and that the Lord was commanding me to repent and to surrender to Him in the obedience of saving faith.

But however real that was, and it was extremely real, it doesn’t change the fact that the conviction of sin that I experienced upon my initial conversion, and over the handful of years that followed was, so to speak, just a taster. It was a sample, if you will, and a very small one at that, and it was only after several years of God dealing with me following that prayer that He began to show me something of the full extent of my sinfulness. Only then did I actually begin to appreciate and understand the sheer extent of the deceptiveness and evil of my heart. He demonstrated to me, quite terribly, that the simple truth was that, even though I had been a Christian for some years, I was still largely blind to the sin in me He yet wanted to reveal to me and deliver me from.

There are all manner of ways to describe the great need of the hour for those who claim to be followers of Jesus. Becoming comprehensively biblical! Growing in godliness! Coming into maturity! Living in obedience to Him! Yes, of course! But what it really boils down to is this: far too many believers who have been believers for years appear to be still largely ignorant of what their sins actually are. They live more in accordance with a kind of accepted, but rather wooly, Christian cultural ‘mindset’ then in deliberate comprehensive obedience to what the Bible actually teaches. They have, it would appear, called a ‘truce’ with the world, embracing a morally respectable, yet completely worldly, godlessness, where things like pride, covetousness, selfishness, the love of money and pursuit of material affluence go largely un-judged.

Part of what I do involves me, at times, in having to engage with brothers in the Lord, and sometimes their wives too, who are in process of shipwrecking their faith. Whether it be through immorality, bitterness and resentment, the love of money, or whatever, my desire and aim is to bring them to repentance and restoration, and freedom from the folly that has overtaken them. It is a joy when success becomes apparent, but heartbreak beyond words should they refuse to put lives in order.

But such situations, and here’s my point, make me realise yet again, as it should do us all, the sheer depth and danger of my own sinfulness, and how easily, but for the grace of the Lord, I could go the same way. As believers we must indeed judge each another and hold one another to account, just as scripture commands us to do (1 Corinthians 5), yet none of us dare forget, but for an instant, that we all stand in equal danger of any who are falling by the wayside, and thus forsaking the Lord and shipwrecking their faith. Scripture warns us of the deceptiveness of sin, and it behoves each one of to periodically quite intentionally ask the Lord to show us afresh just how sinful and prone to deception and self-righteousness we actually are.

“Search me O God and try my heart, and see if there be any wicked way in me.” So cried out the Psalmist in an exhortation we dare not ignore. Paul quite undeniably categorised some Christians as being carnal as opposed to being spiritual, and herein lies the difference between the two. Carnal Christians are little aware of their sinfulness and, broadly speaking, consider their lives to be theirs to do with petty much as they please. The probably won’t be sexually immoral or tell too many lies or anything like that, but outside of the ‘blatant’ stuff still perceive life to be lived in whatever way they fancy. Spiritual Christians however, in complete contrast, are not only fully aware of their sin, they also greatly fear it! They therefore surrender all, every day, lest in failing to do so they surrender instead to the sin they so greatly dread.

Further, carnal Christians will probably consider what I have written as being far too dour and negative for them. Spiritual Christians, however (and I use this phrase as does Paul in 1 Corinthians), will read these words not only with a sense of gratitude for the reminder, but also with a sense of the sheer joy that comes from knowing not only that their sins are forgiven, but that because they are also living in daily repentance, they don’t have to keep trying to deny, hide or excuse them any more.

We shall return to this in the next post…

 

 

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6 thoughts on “A Rather Dangerous Thing To Do…

  1. Amen Beresford…Why are the best prayers always so scary? Thank you Lord for the assurance and promises to remind us that He will never give us a stone when we ask for bread. All that the Father of lights gives His children is good, and better that what we currently have! I have trouble praying prayers like that without first reminding myself of all the good that will come, even if it is through difficulty.

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    • Amen indeed! I have never found any way to truly grow in the Lord apart from difficulties and trials. Not that there aren’t good times too, there are, but it’s when things are tough we lean more on Him than on ourselves. It is always when I am at the end of myself that I find more of Him!

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  2. Good morning Beresford.

    Looks like at least part of my day is rained out which affords me the extra time to pray more and write a few comments online. It’s amazing how little interest I have in physical labor when I have the option to be actively seeking the Lord in this manner and without all the distractions (like chain saws & log splitters etc). One has to be kind of careful as combining the two (power tools and prayer) can be quite dangerous in itself! I haven’t lost any limbs yet but then again I’m not trying too either!

    I can so identify as I once in ignorance asked God to make my like the apostle Paul. Oops. Had I any clue what would have subsequently transpired and how completely inept this human frame and all its devices were to accomplish such feats, I would have ran as fast as I could in the opposite direction. As it is, I have had to humbly retract that prayer for several reasons, though the process and daily embracing of the cross I do not skirt nor minimize.

    I heartily agree that most professing Christians have little clue of the nature of their sins and that to one degree or another we are all deceived to some extent. This is one reason we need each other, not to point out other’s faults in order to minimize or demean them, but because all true Christians ought to hope to be pleasing God regularly, and hopefully be willing to receive help in that arena regardless of where it might originate. No, the rubbing of these precious stones is not easy nor pleasant, but the end thereof is always a fruitful result for those who have been exercised thereby.

    I agree that we ought to be seeking God and His appraisal of our actual state and not attempt to judge ourselves alone. We simply cannot and do not see as clearly as we ought. That said, I have come to understand something (I’m sure you do too) that might be helpful here and expedite this process of abandoning one’s sins.

    Jesus convicts us of sin and calls us to repent of those individual sins, this we know. But where do these sins originate? Is it not within this sinful nature which we own? A sinful nature Jesus judged and condemned at the cross and subsequently freed us from?

    Jesus has dealt with our sins (plural) and dealt with our (sin) singular. The question is as you have noted above, will I embrace what He has done spiritually for me by faith through embracing the death He purchased for me? Will I give my hearty consent to the death sentence over not just my sins but upon me the sinner! That is the question, no?

    God deals with sin (the nature from which my sin flows) by cutting me off from my old self and uniting and recreating me within Himself. I am a new creation in Christ. This is not the result of some fanatical desire of my own wherein I promise to do better, but the very act of Almighty God. All I need to do is praise God with an earnest Yes & Amen!

    Maybe in time, the professing Christian world might finally recognize that our efforts to rid ourselves of our own sin through trying harder, confessing more or that dreadful “I’m working on that” mentality will give way to Reality and what He has done on our behalf. That doesn’t mean we ought to forego confessing our sin when it is revealed to us, but it does mean this:

    The individual who continually attempts to do for God will never succeed and only bring one misery after another upon themselves and those around them. They will perpetually live in Romans 7 and the only hope they have is to become “sick to death” of their sin and failures. However, the spiritually minded have become “sick to death” of themselves (some like myself having to learn things the hard way) to finally give way to the daily execution that frees us from our old selves through our own embracing of the cross.

    I may not be the apostle Paul or even remotely be used in like manner, but I readily and heartily exclaim as he spoke that “I have been crucified with Christ” and ” I am crucified to this world and it unto to me.” This is the doorway to living a sin free life, the life that in practice is publicly displayed as crucified.

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    • Excellent points! Many thanks! I too learn everything the hard way! Man, I’m just trying to picture myself with that chainsaw you mention! It sure would be wise for anyone anywhere near me in such a situation to make sure they really were saved. My ineptitude with tools of all kinds is legendary, and the dangers involved in me wielding anything larger than an electrician’s screwdriver are immense!

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